10/03/2010 4:54 PM ET
Brad Ausmus retires after 18 Major League seasons
The three-time Rawlings Gold Glove winning catcher finishes seventh on the all-time games caught list with 1,938
LOS ANGELES - Dodger catcher Brad Ausmus announced his retirement today after 18 big league seasons and a 23-year professional career.
Ausmus started this afternoon's contest between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, catching the 1,938th and last game of his career. The number leaves him all alone in seventh place on the all-time list, 10 games behind Tony Pena. The next closest active player to Ausmus is the Yankees' Jorge Posada, who has caught 1,573 after today.
Prior to the Dodgers' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks a video tribute to Ausmus was shown on DodgerVision and he was presented by Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti with a unique catching helmet that highlighted his career by featuring all of the key milestones and achievements, as designed by renowned artist David Arrigo.
The 41-year-old backstop headed into his final game with a .251 career average in 1,970 contests. The native of Connecticut and Dartmouth graduate has collected 1,577 career hits, 80 home runs, 607 RBI, 718 runs and 102 stolen bases in 18 seasons with the Padres (1993-96), Tigers (1996, 1999-2000), Astros (1997-98, 2001-08) and Dodgers (2009-10).
Ausmus is a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, earning the honor for National League catchers while with Houston in 2001, 2002 and 2006. Among active catchers with at least 600 games played, he is tied for fifth with a .994 career fielding percentage behind Mike Redmond (.996), Joe Mauer (.996), A.J. Pierzynski (.995) and Yorvit Torrealba (.995). He ranks third in big league history with 12,829 putouts as a catcher, trailing only Ivan Rodriguez (14,611) and Jason Kendall (13,019).
Ausmus has spent the last two seasons working with the Dodger pitching staff and helping mentor young catchers Russell Martin and A.J. Ellis. Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti re-signed Ausmus this past January after witnessing his influence on the 2009 National League West champions.
"While the majority of his career was played in uniforms other than the Dodgers, his presence and positive impact on the team and the organization are greatly appreciated," said Colletti. "His talent, thought process, wit and candor will be missed by all who had the opportunity to know him as a teammate and a friend during his 18 years in the Major Leagues. The Dodger organization wishes him continued success and good health in the next chapters of his career."
In 18 seasons, Ausmus hit the disabled list just one time and that came earlier this season when he had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. Prior to the injury, Ausmus held a streak of the most consecutive seasons of not going on the DL among all active players.
Ausmus played 10 of his 18 big league seasons with the Astros, including from 2001-08. He was Houston's Opening Day catcher for nine of those seasons, including 2003-08. Ausmus is Houston's all-time leader for catchers with 1,243 games and 1,119 starts. He had started at least 100 games at catcher for 11 straight seasons until starting 62 behind the plate in 2008.
Including 2009, when he did not appear in any of the Dodgers' eight playoff games, Ausmus has been a part of six postseasons, including one World Series appearance in 2005 with Houston. He was an American League All-Star with Detroit in 1999, when he started 121 games, threw out 32 of 91 potential base stealers (35.2 percent) and established career highs with a .275 batting average, nine home runs, and 54 RBI.
Ausmus was the recipient of the 2006 Darryl Kile Award presented by the Houston chapter of the BBWAA, which is given annually to the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros player who best exemplifies Kile's traits of "a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man."
In 2009, Ausmus was Joe Torre's acting manager for the regular-season finale Oct. 4 vs. Colorado, a game in which the Dodgers won, 5-3. This year, Torre gave the reigns to the veteran backstop on Friday night and then Dodger infielder Jamey Carroll named Ausmus as his bench coach for last night's game.
Ausmus was originally selected by the Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 First-Year Player Draft. He lives in Del Mar, CA with his wife Liz and their daughters Sophie (12) and Abigail (11).